The magic of the F.A. Cup was on full display today when Bradford City took on Sunderland. Bradford are currently competing in England's third tier, League One, while Sunderland are a well established Premier League side.
This gulf in quality could not be better demonstrated then by the pitch Bradford play on every week. Valley Parade is a reminder of a bygone era of English football where pitches weren't meticulously groomed, and where footballers weren't international stars or millionaires with egos to match.
Poyet made sure the playing surface was a talking point before the match. The Daily Mail reported that Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet offered to host the match at Sunderland's Stadium of Light to avoid what he termed "the worst pitch in England."
Poyet made to eat his words
Of course the match wouldn't be relocated to the Stadium of Light. Poyet's men would probably had wished they would have played on their home gounds. The Black Cats lost the game 2-0 due to a John O'Shea own goal and a second-half goal from a former player in Jon Stead.
Striker Stead played for Sunderland for two seasons, scoring only twice over 35 appearance before leaving for Derby on loan. The talent was always there though and Bradford's cup run has proved as much, with Stead scoring in every round to date.
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Bradford match should have been televised
That is the magic of the FA Cup. Clubs from the lower tiers of the English game can test their meddle against Premiership clubs, rejected players can humble their previous employers and where Cinderella runs to claim the oldest league championship are possible.
After beating Chelsea in the fourth round this is now the second victory against Premiership opposition. Bradford will now likely fancy a match against any team in the quarter-final draw, even if they're paired with Arsenal, Liverpool or Manchester United
Bradford are now one match away from playing at Wembley this season. The magic isn't over and the goal is tantalizingly close for the Bantams and a manager in Phil Parkinson who continues to enhance his growing reputation.
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